Dangerous move toward revising SDF Law to make overseas missions SDF's main area role -- Akahata editorial, April 10, 2005

The government is moving toward adversely revising the Self-Defense Forces Law to make deployment abroad the SDF's main task, following the planned adverse revision of the law to enable Japan to participate in missile defense. Defense Agency Secretary General Ono Yoshinori is determined to submit the bill after ironing out some differences with the Komei Party, with the view of getting it enacted in the current Diet session.

By making deployment abroad the SDF's main task, the aim of the SDF will fundamentally change from the one of national defense to one of taking part in U.S. preemptive attacks.

Ruling party disregards the Constitution

The SDF's primary task is to defend Japan against direct or indirect aggression (SDF Law, Article 3). The SDF's participation in United Nations Peace Keeping Operations (PKO) and their activities to assist the U.S. forces in the event of emergencies in "areas surrounding Japan" fall into categories under the SDF Law's minor rules. SDF activities in Iraq and Afghanistan are categorized as operations covered by additional rules. This legal structure arises from restrictions in the Constitution. Because it is apparent that the SDF are offensive armed forces in violation of the Constitution, the government tried to deflect criticism and justify the SDF by stating that the SDF are not unconstitutional because they represent the minimum force necessary to defend Japan (government written reply on December 5, 1980). This is why all activities that have nothing to do with national defense has been made legitimate by minor rules or appended rules.

Making activities abroad the SDF's main task amounts to overriding the stated government view that the SDF are the minimum force for self-defense. The Defense Program Outline states that the SDF should be able to take responsive action in cooperation with the U.S. forces like those in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The adverse revision of the SDF Law will be a practical application of the National Defense Program Outline, making it possible for the SDF to participate at any time in any U.S. preemptive wars. Dispatching the SDF on a mission that has nothing to do with Japan's defense is unconstitutional in the light of the government's stated view.

The adverse revision of the SDF Law will contradict the role Japan should play internationally with its war-renouncing Article 9 of the Constitution. In the constituent assembly, then Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru stated that if Japan constitutionally declares that it renounces war, it will help Japan to firmly establish its peaceful spirit and convince the world to this effect (September 3, 1946, in the House of Peers). The new system of the overseas dispatch of the SDF will only increase international tensions and dangers by reneging on this "peaceful spirit."

The Komei Party is joining with the Liberal Democratic Party in pushing ahead with the revision. Komei's Secretary General Fuyushiba Tetsuzo lauded the new National Defense Program Outline as an embodiment of the new basic ideas of Japan as a peaceful nation (Komei Shimbun December 11, 2004). Komei President Kanzaki Takenori stated that his party "is in favor" of making overseas deployment the SDF's main task (ibid. March 24, 2005).

Recently, the Komei Party is said to be cautious about dealing with the matter. The daily Mainichi Shimbun reported that the Komei Party is trying to avoid giving the impression that it is taking the lead on the "national defense" issue with the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election approaching in July. If this is true, the Komei Party should oppose the adverse revision of the SDF Law.

Increasing concerns in Asia

Asian peoples are on the alert regarding the moves toward amending Article 9 because those moves are linked to the arguments glorifying the war of aggression. They are also concerned about Japan preparing to deploy the SDF abroad.

The task now is for us to foil the adverse revision of the SDF Law that will enable the SDF to go abroad as their principal mission. Japan must implement its peace principles by defending Article 9. (end)

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